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Joshua Hoeschel ben Jacob


JOSHUA HOESCHEL BEN JACOB (1595–1663), Polish rabbi, also called "the Rebbi Reb Hoeschel ." Joshua Hoeschel was apparently born in Lublin. He studied under his father *Jacob b. Ephraim Naphtali Hirsch. Because of his many talents, his father brought him into the administration of the yeshivah which he had established in Brest-Litovsk. When in 1635 his father was appointed rabbi and rosh yeshivah of Lublin, Joshua Hoeschel continued to assist him there in its administration and was responsible for it after the death of his father in 1644. In 1650 he was appointed to succeed his father as rabbi of the Lublin community. On the death of Yom Tov Lipmann *Heller, rabbi of Cracow, in 1654, he was invited to succeed him and held the post until his death. As a result of the *Chmielnicki massacres of 1648–49 and the consequent impoverishment of the Jewish communities of Poland and Lithuania, as well as the pogrom in Lublin in 1656, he moved to Vienna around 1657, exerted himself with the government for the benefit of his people, and urged the wealthy Jews to intensify their assistance during this difficult period. About 1659 he returned to Poland, where he continued his educational activities and enacted various *takkanot. Among his distinguished pupils were *Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen (the Shakh) and Samuel *Koidanover.

The profound acumen of Joshua Hoeschel was a byword among the Jews of Poland, and he himself became a legendary figure, many remarkable tales being told about him. His method of study was distinguished by a profound penetration into the theme and a reliance upon Rashi and *tosafot, without allowing extensive scope for pilpul introduced by Jacob b. Joseph *Pollak and then customary in most Polish yeshivot. Jair Ḥayyim *Bacharach approved this method, stressing that, to the extent that he used pilpul, it was "on genuine difficulties." Joshua Hoeschel's great modesty prevented him from publishing his many works, and only a small part has appeared, among them: (1) Toledot Aharon (Lublin, 1682, named after his pupil, Aaron Klinger, who collected the material), consisting of novellae on Bava Kamma, Bava Meẓia, and Bava Batra. They were republished in an enlarged form under the title Ḥiddushei Halakhot (Frankfurt, 1725); (2) novellae and glosses on the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol of Moses of Coucy (Kopys, 1807); (3) Ḥanukkat ha-Torah (1880), novellae on the Bible collected by H. Ersohn. His many responsa are scattered in various collections: two of them were published in the Ammudei Shittim le-Veit ha-Levi (Prague, 1791; 58–66) by Levi b. David Pollack. He occupied himself to a considerable extent with the problem of permitting *agunot to remarry, but in consequence of a mistake in one such case he resolved to refrain from giving decisions on this in the future.


Ḥ.N. Dembitzer, Kelilat Yofi, 2 (1893), 39–83; Kaufmann, in: mgwj, 39 (1895), 556–8; Ḥ.D. Friedberg, Luḥot Zikkaron (1897), 16–18; S.B. Nissenbaum, Le-Korot ha-Yehudim be-Lublin (1900), 56–58; J. Loewenstein, in: Ha-Eshkol, 4 (1902), 182–90; Kohen-Ẓedek, in: Ha-Yehudi, 5 (1902), nos. 35–42, 47; Michelsohn, ibid., no. 47; Ḥ. Tchernowitz, Toledot ha-Posekim, 3 (1947), index; N. Shemen, Lublin (1952), 66, 72, 78, 322, 370 (Yid.).

[Yehoshua Horowitz]

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